A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a friend about a project she’s involved in. She was looking for me to share my “inspiring story” on being a technical woman.
I said no. Said, got nothing inspiring to say right now. Can’t. Do. It.
And she gave me a pep talk, and I thought about how, in a little while, I would write something that might be inspiring, about how at times it sucks to be a woman in tech, and sometimes we feel that we have nothing good to say, but that we have each other. The tech-woman mafia.
But still, I haven’t written it. Because I still got nothing.
And I sit and watch a panel of interns, and one of them says, “being a woman has never been an issue”, and I think, damn, when did I stop believing that?
Re-read Women Don’t Ask (Amazon) and then wish I hadn’t, because it reminds me that women, we have to play the social game (don’t be selfish, do what is best for others) but that often it seems like being selfish is how people get ahead – you want to do something extraordinary, you’ll probably need to put that project at the top of your list. Trying to please everyone just leads to mediocrity.
I work at a great place for women, I do. But that doesn’t mean that something doesn’t happen most days to make me feel conscious of the fact that I’m something of the odd one out. Sometimes it’s bad – like when someone asks me if I am a product manager (or, suggests I would be a good product manager). Sometimes it’s good, like when the fact that I’m not narrowly focused gets me an opportunity. Some of it is entirely in my head, like when I meet people and make a point of saying I’m a software engineer, just in case they don’t realize – guys don’t feel the need to do this.
Point is, I have good things to say about being in tech, about my job, about where I work, about what I’m going to do next. But not about being a technical woman. I just feel burnt out, uninspired, and uninspiring. Surrounded by straight white males, playing on the easiest game setting (one of the best articles I’ve read about gender) when I’m not always even sure we’re playing the same game, period.
Have you ever felt like this? What did you do?